Issue 1 Add-One - Freestyle USB

By $$$ OnceWasSaverNowIsGamer $$$
24/10/98
Hardware One

  • Introduction: Story of The Evil Flashman

I was doing fine on the 2nd month of my "save your hard-earned money" campaign (aka "Master Saving Plan for A Better Tomorrow") when I got a call from Flashman the other day: "Hey, you JUST GOTTA get this incredible thing I am holding in my hands right now!".

"Flashman being prone to exaggeration sometimes, I immediately thought he was in one of his moods again."

I heard Flashman unwrapping something in the background all the while going "man! this is incredible thing. You're going to love it!". Flashman being prone to exaggeration sometimes, I immediately thought he was in one of his moods again.

I reminded him of the STB Nitro he had once waxed lyrical over last year.

"THIS IS A MUST-HAVE CONTROLLER! I saw it just now at one of the shops and couldn't believe how precise it was until I tried it! Imagine not having to sacrifice precious desktop space to one of those wheel thingies and being able to have the same if not better level of precision control. That's the Freestyle man!".

"Sorry about that 'recommendation'" he went. "What was I thinking back then!". So I said to Flashman "So what is it about this new toy of yours? What's it called?".

"The FREESTYLE" he replied.

Sceptical to say the least given my long association with this serial exaggerationist (is there such a word?), I calmly said "What does this thing do that I so must have it?".

He said to me "THIS IS A MUST-HAVE CONTROLLER! I saw it just now at one of the shops and couldn't believe how precise it was until I tried it! Imagine not having to sacrifice precious desktop space to one of those wheel thingies and being able to have the same if not better level of precision control. That's the Freestyle man!".


Seeing and Trying the Thingy for Myself!

I was having difficulty imagining what he was trying to describe. The man was in a hyper-excited phase to say the least. So I said to him that I would have to check it out first even though he volunteered to buy it for me first.

This guy was seriously in the way of my 'Master Saving Plan for A Better Tomorrow' so I decided to make a conscious effort to dislike the Freestyle. I had a look at a review of it on the Net (in one of the game sites) and focused on the negative things mentioned there. Thought that would be the end of the matter.

"Flashman, I take this opportunity to take back all the bad things I have ever said about your credibility as a recommender of cool toys! This thing is INCREDIBLE!!! I was up playing all night, lap after lap of Need for Speed III and Motorcross Madness."

Anyway, I eventually found my way to Sim Lim Square one fine day and low and behold, I was at the same shop that Flashman had told me about regarding his first sighting of the Freestyle. I thought to myself "So let's just see how this thing really is."

I tried it. I LOVED it. I bought it.

Flashman, I take this opportunity to take back all the bad things I have ever said about your credibility as a recommender of cool toys! This thing is INCREDIBLE!!! I was up playing all night, lap after lap of Need for Speed III and Motorcross Madness. I had tried Need for Speed III before buying the Freestyle and found it 'nice' but didn't really get into it. I was finally able to enjoy NFSIII with the Freestyle as it made me see that this is the way the driving games are meant to be enjoyed!!


To Love Or Not to Love?

To sum up, these are the things I really like about the Freestyle:-

Space Saving! This is very important what with the amount of peripherals I have accumulated over the past year (prior to Master Saving Plan for a Better Tomorrow);

Control is very accurate and customisable, including adjustments of the range of control and the deadzone. I found the default setting pretty comfortable and only tweaked it a little;

Doubles as a gamepad when the "sensor" is off. This means that I now have a gravis gamepad which I need to consign to the scrapheap or maybe keep for a second person.

USB! Very cool. Finally, something to shove into that port in my Abit BH6 mb powered by a Celeron 300A.


Mods or customising the Freestyle

I also have the PowerRamp, which technically isn't a game controller--it's actually a keyboard substitute that just happens to look and play like an arcade-level joystick and great for fighting games. I found a new use for my PowerRamp, which I have stopped using until I bought the Freestyle:- as the PowerRamp acts like a second keyboard I now use it as a foot pedal or rather a Toe pedal! Hey, the sloping top panel of the PowerRamp even feels like it was made for my foot! Acceleration in NFS3 has been set to one of the buttons on this device which I control by pressing on with the big toe (!?!) For those of you offended with the mention of my toe, sorry. There is no cool way to describe this method of using the PowerRamp but hey, it works!!

"One snag remains, after extended play with the Freestyle (eg 4-5 hours or more), I did develop cramps in my wrists. However, the pain was not enough to deter me from playing on! I suppose if I were to get an actual wheel and mount the Freestyle onto the wheel and then secure the wheel onto the table, I would then have a LOW cost wheel controller!! mmmmm....maybe being a skinflint has it's plusses after all....."


Back To 'Master Saving Plan for a Better Tomorrow'

Anyway, that's it from me. No more purchases ….have to keep on-track with my Master Saving Plan for a Better Tomorrow…must stay away from Flashman……nah! Will be getting a Spectra soon to soup up NFS$$$. Cheers!


 

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